JOHNSON CITY and KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Matthew Hart twice found Middle Tennessee State University when MTSU came to East Tennessee to recruit prospective students last week.
Hart, 17,who is from Morristown, Tennessee, and a Morristown West High School senior, and his father, Duane, attended the MTSU True Blue Tour event in Johnson City — 65 miles from home. One night later, Matthew Hart and his mother, Lori, made the 50-mile trip to Knoxville for her to learn about the mechatronics engineering program he wants to study — and he was extremely excited.
Matthew Hart, wearing MTSU apparel as were many students, was among dozens of students attending the events in Johnson City and Knoxville.
In the midst of recruiting new and transfer students for 2022 and beyond, MTSU travels across Tennessee and to five major cities out of state to share what MTSU offers in terms of academic programs, financial aid, guaranteed scholarships, housing and much more.
Masks are required as a COVID-19 protocol, Admissions officials said. To learn more or to register, go here.
In Knoxville, Hart and his mother personally talked to MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, sharing his enthusiasm for wanting to attend and study mechatronics, which has 315 students now and more than 260 graduates since 2013.
“I wanted to show my mom how much I like the school,” he said. Added Lori Hart: “He confirmed that’s where he wants to go.” The president gave him a $1,000 scholarship for attending back-to-back nights.
In Johnson City, Eliza Sanders, 18, of Kingsport, Tennessee, a Northeast State freshman and $5,000 scholarship recipient, attended the Tennessee Governor’s School for the Arts at MTSU in 2019 and “really enjoyed the (MTSU) dance program and fell in love with the studio.”
As McPhee kept drawing names of winners of scholarships in Knoxville, there emerged a common theme: Many prospective students want to be professional pilot majors in aerospace — one of the nation’s leading flight school programs.
They included Alex Hoffman of Knoxville (Pellissippi State Community College/$1,500 scholarship), L&N STEM Academy senior Elise Davenport ($5,000), Paige Grimsled (Jefferson County High School/$8,000) and Michael Touissaint (Grace Christian Academy/$10,000).
Another aerospace scholarship recipient, Lindy Futrell (Hardin Valley Academy/$6,000) was an exception. Coming from a family of pilots and MTSU alumni — uncles Ken (’83, ’84, ’94) and Andy Futrell (‘’86, ‘’87) and cousin Kelly Hanley (2003, ’04) — Lindy wants to stay on the ground as an airline mechanic.
“She likes to work with her hands,” her father, Trent Futrell, said. “We were blown away by the scholarship (McPhee added $1,000 when he learned of the MTSU connections). This is really cool.”
A parent’s perspective
McPhee invited Beth White of Clinton, Tennessee, to speak to the Knoxville audience. She is education program manager at the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education, managing workforce development programs for the U.S. Dept. of Energy and Homeland Security.
White’s also the mother of Emily Bigler, 20, an MTSU sophomore political science and Spanish double major who is minoring in international affairs and is a part of the Honors College.
“Working with colleges and universities across the country and from my own educational experience, what that gives me is perspective,” she said. “I have had a great experience with MTSU — from admissions to financial aid to housing … the care and concern of the faculty and staff. Best customer service, hands down.
“The leadership Dr. McPhee models sets the standard for everybody else. The expectation is step up and do what’s right. … Whatever my concern or questions are, I’m always reassured.”
Strong alumni support
MTSU alumnus Katie Inman (Class of 2018), a WBIR-TV features reporter and new weekend anchor at the Knoxville station, told prospective students and parents/guardians how “MTSU was where I wanted to go” after graduating from Jefferson County High School.
“Make sure you step into that (College of) Media and Entertainment building when you visit. I received hands-on experience. I was a tour guide. … I was using the same equipment at MTSU as I am using now at the TV station. I’m a big advocate for MTSU. I don’t regret going to the middle part of the state (to attend college).”
Larry Cox (’68), an MTSU Distinguished Alumnus (2013-14 Service to Community), also attended.
Dates to remember
MTSU offers a second True Blue Preview day of the fall Saturday, Nov. 6. Admissions will waive the application fee for those attending that day.
Linda Olsen, undergraduate admissions director, said Wednesday, Dec. 1, is the deadline for students to apply and receive a guaranteed scholarship if they meet GPA and ACT requirements. For transfer students, Feb. 15 is the deadline to apply and receive a guaranteed scholarship for those with 60 hours credit and a cumulative 3.0 GPA.
On deck: Memphis and Jackson
MTSU’s True Blue Tour visits Memphis, Tennessee (Esplande Memphis, 901 Cordova Station Ave.), Wednesday, Nov. 3, and Jackson (the Jackson Country Club, 31 Jackson Country Club Lane) Thursday, Nov. 4. Both events feature a 12:30 p.m. luncheon for counselors and community college staff and a 6 p.m. student reception.
— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)